As business leaders we don’t often think of ourselves as teachers, but there are some similarities. This spring in particular, we each have the opportunity to invite our employees to engage in the same lesson that area school children will learn. In late April and early May, ThedaCare employees will shed their scrubs for classroom attire as they promote healthy habits to students at six elementary schools in Berlin, the Fox Cities, New London, Oshkosh, Shawano and Waupaca.
ThedaCare is launching our inaugural “Good to Go” program as part of an effort to battle childhood obesity. Our employees are volunteering to help teach kids the importance of good eating habits, exercise and making healthy choices. We’re grateful to these schools and their leaders for allowing us this opportunity to influence these youngsters. It’s critically important.
Childhood obesity puts children at greater risk for adulthood problems like heart disease, osteoarthritis, Type 2 diabetes and many types of cancer. Further research points to a strong link between childhood obesity and adulthood obesity. And if that’s not enough, obesity puts youth at risk for psychological problems, including depression and low self-esteem, teasing and bullying.
Through the Weight of the Fox Valley, a three-county initiative to build a community that achieves and maintains a healthy weight at every age, we are together tackling obesity. Like many local businesses, we’re proud to be a supporter. We’re also excited to take this new step to reach kids in their schools.
That said, Good to Go is not only for kids. It’s also for their parents and family members, friends and neighbors. And just maybe, it’s also for you and your employees. Why not start a Good to Go effort at work? For one week, commit to setting a healthy example at your business. It doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming. It’s as simple as enlisting a few folks to help you execute around these – or other – ideas:
- Bring in or make salads for a “healthy lunch day.”
- Ask employees to bring their comfortable walking shoes and hold “walking” meetings outside, as you walk around the block or your building.
- Call a mandatory five minute energy break and allow employees to walk around and stretch.
- Provide pitchers of water with lemon, lime and orange slices for a refreshing water break.
- Bring in a local chef to conduct a workshop on packing a healthy bag lunch.
- Hold an employee healthy recipe swap. Better yet, ask employees to make their favorite healthy snack or dish and pick a winner.
As adults, we sometimes need a kick in the pants to get back on a healthy track. Just like a good school that’s open to new ways of learning, we can partner with our employees for better health. When they go home and share with their families and friends, we’re moving everyone closer to being Good to Go.
Dr. Dean Gruner is president and CEO of Appleton-based ThedaCare.